As Winter comes to a close, I find myself reflecting on what I've learned in the season. How has being limited by the weather and the elements shaped my use of time in this closing season? What does Winter signify in life seasons? Many things happen in the Winter months: holidays, the coming of a new year, cold, darkness, even the death and retreat of much that lives.
With each season we are given the opportunity to reflect, reinvent and refresh according to our willingness to embrace each cycle of life. Winter is a season of allowing what is dead to be covered over, and what is still living to be preserved in cold, quiet darkness. Winter allows what we didn't like about our lives in the former year to be buried and forgotten. Winter allows us to rest and reflect, to slow down and contemplate, to create warmth and light from within.
Just when we arrive to the point where we have had it with forced reflection, the coldness, the limitations of snow, ice and bone-chilling wind...signs of change emerge all around us. The long nights begin to shorten, the sun shines more frequently and the birds begin to chirp outside our windows.
In our hearts we ponder the next season of our lives and begin to implement the changes we've considered in our hibernation. Some of us emerge from our Winter's rest roaring like a bear, ready to tackle the most grandiose of plans, others of us remain more reserved…cautiously surveying the climate and waiting for our chance to embark on new adventures.
In time, no matter how big or small our steps forward, we begin to see the hopes we've stored up begin to bloom. As the buds return to the tree branches signaling the return of the leaves, so do we begin to take notice of the small beginnings of new directions in our lives.
Perhaps we've shed a few pounds and our clothes are fitting looser, or our readership has increased, or maybe our marital intimacy has begun to flourish from all those warmth-seeking Winter cuddles. Maybe we've noticed our little ones as they've grown so quickly before our eyes, perhaps experiencing their own wonder at their very first Winter.
We find ourselves in a new place of hopefulness, getting out more frequently just to experience what had been hidden by the cold…new fresh life, new possibilities.
The last signs of Winter begin to be washed away as the cleansing rains of Spring fill the air. Galoshes, umbrellas and wind-breaker jackets make their way to the front of our closets. We begin to purge ourselves of all that held us back in the year before…devoting hours to cleaning, rearranging, reorganizing, and regrouping. In the same way our minds and hearts are purged of past regrets and old patterns, creating space for new paths to be explored.
At last, we arrive in a place filled with beauty, serenity and calm. We accept where we are, and look forward as greater things are now just on the horizon. We press onward, making our plans for the year and feeling free to indulge in the bright shining sun.
Spring has come. The season of rebirth captivates us by its elegant charm. Flowers pop up beneath the remnants of leaves shed in the Fall. Leaves open wide like outstretched hands. Children once again fill the parks with laughter. We walk lighter on our feet, have a new song in our hearts and smile at strangers as if to agree that Winter is gone at last.
Without being too hasty or unappreciative of all the wonders of Spring, a new thought arrives in our minds: Summer is now just a season away.